He was always alone, always sitting there with no one to talk to. Nobody quite knew what to think of him. He just seemed so odd. But he was always there, always staring at people as they walked by.
Sometimes kids would stumble over his oversized feet as they walked by, not realizing that he was there. Sometimes they would stick gum on the wall right above his head, not realizing that he was there. Sometimes they would shout insensitive things to their friends that might well get them expelled, if anyone knew, not realizing that he was there. He saw everything, he saw nothing, he saw all that happened around him. He was the quiet observer of the hallway. Nobody tended to sit there anyways, other than him.
Once in a while, teachers would stop by to talk to him. He looked like a kid in an emo phase, but with parents who wouldn’t let him dress that way. His hair was grown out so that he had a shaggy fringe, and his eyelashes were so long and full that he appeared to be wearing eyeliner, if you looked at him right. Sure he was a bit depressed, but he wasn’t emo. He found those people shallow and fake. He found everyone shallow and fake. Sometimes he felt that he was the only “real” person in the world—everyone else was a drone of a person, dead but for the thoughts of others that they worshipped blindly. His eyes were dark and melancholy, but they had a spark of untamed brilliance and a glint of mischief that nobody was able to see. So he just appeared sullen, dead, broken to everyone who saw him. But he was really the opposite. He was brilliant, and he put it to work all the time. There wasn’t a moment of the day where he wasn’t thinking. He thought about everything, from the ideal economic system for the United States to the painful memory of his family’s ancestral home. He didn’t like to think about himself; that was too painful. He knew who he was. What he was. Devil spawn. That’s what they all told him, back at home where he came from. Ancestors in league with the Devil; evil in his blood. That’s what they all told him.
As for the people here, they didn’t know where he came from. They didn’t know all that, all the truth in the world. They were decidedly unaware that he was devil spawn. But they certainly knew he was foreign. Decidedly foreign. Perhaps it was his rather obvious British accent. Well, doubtful. Barely anyone had heard him speak. He didn’t speak in class at all. He was too afraid to. Perhaps there was just something about him. Maybe he didn’t look like he was “from here.” But that was beside the point. At least they didn’t know.
Once in a while, teachers would stop by to talk to him. They were afraid he was depressed, suicidal, perhaps. But no. Suicide had been on his mind before, but that was gone away from his mind. Especially after the visit to the insane asylum where his mother was being housed.
He’d found the address when he was rummaging through things in the cellar. It seemed that his father was hiding it from him. Not a surprise. Sometimes it was like he didn’t want his son to know about himself or his mother.
It was a small place, not a large place, but it was relatively far away. For him, anyways. If you had a car, it wasn’t far, but he had no car. He didn’t need one. Besides, he wasn’t old enough at the time anyways.
But he was determined to find his mother, the mother that had eluded him for fifteen long years of abuse and hatred. Maybe if his mother was there, then he would find himself surrounded by love instead of hate. But he didn’t even know what love was. He’d never heard the word, other than to refer to sex. So he assumed that’s what it meant. No. He simply didn’t want to be bullied anymore. He wasn’t aware of love. Real love, that is.
So one Saturday morning he set out with the address in his hand. He walked the many long miles that separated him from his mother all alone, refusing any help out of fear that he might once again be subject to the merciless bullying of the masses.
He approached the front desk when he got there and asked to see his mother. Well, he asked his mother’s name. Daisy Wayworde. The man at the desk, luckily, had never heard of the Wayworde family. So he took the boy to his mother, announcing to him that she had not had a visitor in her entire time at the place.
He arrived, and his mother stared at him for a moment. He demanded to be left alone with her, and he was left alone with her.
Then her hand reached up to touch his neck, feeling the spot where he had his birthmark—a slight deformity at which his neck bone had a small blunt bump that jutted slightly out at a very particular spot. It was unnoticeable, unless you touched it. He knew he was born with it.
Then Daisy Wayworde broke the awful frown that she always plastered to her face with a smile of recognition. She whispered the two words that he had always wanted to hear: “My son.”
Then she had told him everything that he had always wanted to know. Where she was from. How she had ended up in their little town far away from everything and surrounded by farms. How she had met his father. His birth. Her desire to stay and raise her son, which led to her being taken to the mental hospital. “Your father is a madman. I should’ve known the second I met him. But I wanted to raise you, make sure you wouldn’t turn out like him. They thought I was in love with a madman.”
“He raped you,” he said, only now beginning to understand what the word meant and the connection it had to his father.
And his entire life was shattered forever. Her words had destroyed everything he knew. He had seen and felt love for the very first time, although he didn’t quite know it just yet. All he knew was that it was a wonderful, alien thing that warmed his world without scorching it, and he left the hospital waiting for more.
And now, here he was, thousands of miles away, in America, with no hope of ever seeing his mother again. But he knew with a sound, firm resolve that he would stay alive for her. He was going to make sure that his mother’s dream would come true—that he would not be the evil man his father was. He’d prove himself more than devil spawn.
He liked to think in third person sometimes. It was freeing that way, not having to attach himself to himself. He was free to marvel at the loveless boy with a father whose dream was to take the American criminal world by storm. He was free to marvel at the boy with scars both mental and physical, all by the hand of the man who was supposed to raise him. He was free to marvel at everything that he had ever experienced, without having to realize that the experiences were his own. He was an observer, a historian finding the history of his own life. It was freeing that way.
Sometimes he thought about himself as someone else. Like another version of himself. His most beloved version of himself was a pale boy with blonde hair and the name “Thomas Sherbourne.” He was like everyone else, but better. He was popular, the envy of his childhood hometown. He had well-off farmer parents who had enough money to buy a computer, which he wouldn’t lend to the boy who lived at that shack of a mansion, that dark brooding house that was the only one on Astley Road. All the other houses had been demolished years ago so that the demonic family in that house could live in solitary confinement, away from the rest of the town. There was less disturbance that way. That, and they were hopelessly poor. The boy at that house was odd, foreign-looking. His skin was darker in the way that the odd people are from the cities who come traveling through sometimes, driving fast sleek cars on their way to the ocean. They didn’t know people of color in the town, other than that strange boy’s mother, who was now in a mental institution far away down the main road. They didn’t even know the words to describe them—just “odd.”
But Thomas Sherbourne was just an image. A hopeless dream, someone he would never be. He wasn’t like everyone else. That was a fact. He couldn’t change that.
He told these things to no one but himself—even when in class they had to write about their experiences as “American,” all he wrote was the truth: “I am not American.” He elaborated on it. He received full marks, despite not being American. The teacher said he was a very lyrical writer, whatever that meant.
Nobody spoke to him. That was okay. Nobody acknowledged him. That was okay. Maybe it was better to just marvel at himself instead. Maybe it was better to just look through the eyes of Thomas Sherbourne.
But then comes the time when one must abandon foolish fantasies and settle back into one’s self. And I am no exception.
Edited by: Mr. Clint O’Rafferty